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hfffoman

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Would have been torture to have finished it

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-04-20

On the strength of this, it is hard to see how he became so famous. The writing is utterly uninspiring and made worse by narration that is utterly lifeless. Of course I am only speaking of the early chapters as there was no way I was going to subject myself to the torture of finishing it.

Sadly not another Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-04-20

If I had finished it, I might have found the spark that made his best known novel so wonderful, but the narration of this one is so dreadful, I never got that far. Every minute of listening to those rasping voices was a labour to the ear.

Probably the best book I have ever sent back.

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-04-20

Gerald Durrell was a good bloke. A great bloke. I would love to write a 5 star review of what a wonderful bloke he was. Read his wikipedia page and you will be blown away with admiration. Unfortunately the book is less interesting than the wikipedia page and, much as I felt it was a good book, I got bored half way through and put it away. And that is despite the narration by Rupert Degas, surely the absolute number 1 of Audible readers. This is probably the best book I have ever sent back.

Superb

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-12-18

These lectures are fascinating, insightful and balanced. It took a couple of lectures to get into it then I was hooked. The lecturer shows a seasoned wisdom and never gives in to his pet opinions or prejudices.

Painful but full of humanity

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-06-18

Without spoilers this is a combination of two perspectives: coming of age in small town Austria, including the grotesque Krampus tradition; and the end of the second world war as experienced by country women and children. It is disturbing and at times painful to read but sensitively written and full of humanity. To those (Amazon reviewers) who thought it was too nasty, I would say this: the characters, and the behaviour described, are realistic; Krampus was like that. If you want a feel-good read, where the warmth of human nature is put on a plate and nicely chopped up for you like sausages, perhaps you would do better to choose a book about something other than wartime.

4.5 stars for the novel, but it was ruined by the narration. I have listened to 250-odd books on audible and this is probably the worst narrator. She turns every comma into a full stop and frequently puts a full stop just before a verb. The result is bizarre. I don't understand how she could have thought it made sense, nor how the publisher failed to deal with it. Better to get it in paperback

1 person found this helpful

Poor writing made worse by the narration

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-10-17

I rarely give one star to a novel but I am sorry to say this one deserves it. The slow buildup makes interesting reading for a while but you soon get the feeling the whole thing isn't going to make sense and the longer it goes on the more unconvincing it becomes. Even if you accept the premise (I won't reveal anything) which has some extremely strange and unexplained science, the logic doesn't work. As soon as you stop and think, you realize that the role of the caretaker and the building management company were just ludicrous and the whole story relied on that ludicrous premise, (as well as the ludicrous science).

To make it worse, the dialogue feels like Enid Blyton's famous five and unfortunately there is an awful lot of it. At times the characters act like witless children. Again without revealing anything, there is a scene involving a spear near the end which should have made any sensible publisher cough politely and recommend the delete key.

The narration is mixed. He does the different voices superbly. The rest of the reading is unpleasantly flat and nasal. But the whole experience is ruined by the awful way the speech is reported. It goes like this: "look out!" ......(pause).... SAID Tim. The inappropriate pause and the emphasis on the word "said" makes it sound like people learning to read out loud at primary school. It sounded as though someone had had the clever idea of recording "said Tim", "said Nate", "said Mandy" once for each character and grafted them into the recording every time they were needed. I winced every time I heard it, which made a huge amount of wincing.

2 people found this helpful

Disastrous choice of narrator

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-09-17

Would you try another book written by Gabriel Tallent or narrated by Alex McKenna?

BY the author, yes, by the narrator, no

Would you be willing to try another one of Alex McKenna’s performances?

Never

Any additional comments?

How on earth did they choose a narrator with a broken voice that sounds like two rusty pieces of metal scraping?

17 people found this helpful

The most annoying speaker I have ever heard

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-03-17

Any additional comments?

I do not think I have ever listened to a speaker as annoying as this one. He talks like a clown, his entire manner is supercilious, he puts a ridiculous emphasis on unnecessary words and he throws in inappropriate jokes (I mean that not in the PC sense) that made me want to scream. I fear that the sound of him shouting "AND I QUOTE... ...UNQUOTE" will haunt me for many weeks.

The content is interesting. Of course, Beethoven's life was just so fascinating, I would put it in the category of things everyone ought to study. The material isn't novel. Any decent biography of Beethoven will give you the same stories and the same interpretation of them, probably in more depth - though a book won't give you the musical extracts.

My recommendation would be to read a book about Beethoven's life and then listen to the lectures by Jonathan Biss available free on coursera. They are incomparably superior to this buffoon.

Only useful for the very young and the very naive

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-10-16

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I am not prejudiced against American accents but the tone of this narrator, while sounding ok in the test sample, grated on me so much, by the end I could barely listen.It is a fault with the book that it dresses up trite observations in a pseudo-scientific way as if presenting well defined laws of human nature only understood by a few experts. The narrator exacerbates this and must take a lot of responsibility for the annoying experience that results.

Any additional comments?

The advice in this book is not bad but little or none of it is new. It's just a rehash of standard body language and basic social skills training that has been around for decades. The FBI angle is amusing but doesn't add anything of substance. The chapter on the internet is of course not decades old but neither does it say anything beyond what is already well known to most internet users. Don't send angry emails until you've had a chance to cool down. Check your addressee list in case you made a mistake. Don't post naked pictures of yourself. Beware of people lying on social media. Good advice but only of value to the young and the naive.

Probably the most profound insight is the friendship formula: friendship = proximity + frequency + duration + intensity. But the examples he gives to validate it are dreadful. He cites a case where he supposedly helped a shy young man to make friends by telling him to go to a bar every evening, place a set of glass marbles on the counter and examine them with a magnifying glass. He claims this incited curiosity which led to the young man making friends. He had to go to the bar often and sit alone all evening in order to boost the proximity, frequency and duration elements of the equation.

The book is riddled with facile statements such as "Scientists have discovered that as we go about our daily lives our senses are constantly sending messages to our brain which in turn processes the information". And: If you cut someone's carotid artery, death will follow in minutes. One of the examples (the drunk passenger on a plane) is good but many of the stories and illustrations are so trite as to be laughable. There is so much simplistic advice dressed up as profundity, I found it almost unbearable.

It would be a good introduction for a socially undeveloped person aged about 10-14. (I mean that seriously).

2 people found this helpful

Truly special

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-10-16

Any additional comments?

Not more than once a decade I read a novel that gives me so much pleasure and admiration that it stands out as a pinnacle on the landscape of life's experiences. This is one such book.

I will say little about the story as I want everyone to approach it fresh. It is about memory and forgetting, impermanence and loss, pain and mental strength, suffering and the burden of suffering, art and nature. It is sad and uplifting on every page. It inspires admiration both for the characters and for the aspects of eastern culture it describes. It delves into humanity, dealing with serious issues sensitively and profoundly and resisting, with the assured touch of a master of literature, every opportunity for cheap drama or trite sentiment.

The reading is sensitive and nicely phrased though unfortunately she can't do a South African accent.

I put some extended quotes in my amazon.co.uk review